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Practice Makes Perfect – Eternal Referee Course

There’s a saying – “You know what happens when you assume? It makes an ass out of u and me.”

I have historically been very guilty of assuming everyone knows what I expect. They don’t! And it’s wrong of me to think they do. I am making strides to lay out my expectations early and it definitely helps in achieving results. 

What the whole Australian MMA scene is guilty of assuming is that officials should be good at their job. If they aren’t receiving the appropriate training, how can we expect them to be high level? If a fighter didn’t train we wouldn’t expect a high level performance from them, would we?

Eternal puts on roughly 60 pro fights a year nationally. The rest of the events cover maybe another 20. So, for argument’s sake, let’s say 80 fights a year. Maybe 20 in Perth, 30 on the Gold Coast, and 30 elsewhere. Each referee is getting maybe 6 or 7 fights a year domestically, often separated by months at a time. There is no consistency for the officials. They work in a high pressure environment and have to make split second decisions with huge repercussions. The best they can hope for is to go home without anyone slating them. Thankless task.

Perth’s Matt Wynne, officiating the Eternal 60 Main Event.

A few years ago Eternal, in conjunction with the Western Australian Combat Sports Commission, sponsored an Officials Development Day with Peter Hickmott. Peter is an experienced UFC referee and is widely regarded among the cream of the crop of Australian officiating.

This was repeated this year at the amazing UFC Gym in Balcatta. 20+ Perth officials and commission members attended a 3hr practical training seminar with one of the most experienced referees in the game – UFC referee John Sharp. ‘Sharpy’ was able to practically assess and debrief all attending officials at Eternal 60 that night.

UFC referee John Sharp, discussing the ruleset with the WA Sporting Commission.

We are committed to developing all those who work for us in order to ensure the fighters get the right decisions made on the night so as not to ruin their moment. At the end of the day that’s what we do it for. To allow the fighters to turn up and fight their hearts out without worrying about poor stoppages or bad calls. It will never be perfect, the job is too hard, but we have to help make it as near to perfect as possible.

Referee course underway with live drills.

Eternal will be bringing the course back to Perth in October and we will run courses on the Gold Coast and in Melbourne this year also. We are determined to make this sport as professional and exciting, but most importantly as safe as possible. 

Thanks must be extended to The WA Combat Sports Commission, John Sharp and a massive thanks to Matt Wynne for organising.

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